Touring the Alps - then and now
This summer, a group of travelers set out to recreate one of the first guided tours through the Swiss Alps. Organized by tourism trailblazer Thomas Cook in 1863, for many the tour marks the birth of mass tourism.
In their ancestors' footsteps
The Swiss Grand Tour 2013 aimed to recreate what is seen as the first organized guided tour of Switzerland - and one of the first worldwide - in 1863. Some of the participants - seen here hiking at the Gemmi Pass between Leukerbad and Kandersteg - are descendants of those original tourists from the United Kingdom.
Luckily, one of the travellers, Miss Jemima Morrell, kept a meticulous and beautifully illustrated diary of the group's travels. Coming from a suitably well-off middle class family near York, she had "done" Scotland as well as London and other places in England. It was now time for an adventure abroad.
Hiking in dresses
On June 26 1863, the "Junior United Alpine Club" set out from London Bridge station for their three-week journey. Jemima Morell is third from left. In those days, ladies had to wear their cumbersome Victorian-era dresses at all times, and they always had an umbrella at the ready too.
The route of 1863
The impressive itinerary took the group across the Swiss and part of the French Alps. And it was by no means a leisurely stroll, with 5 a.m. starts nearly every day. "The awful power of the rocks as we crept under their beetling walls made one tremble," Morrell wrote in her diary.
Pioneer of tourism
The Swiss Tour of 1863 is often seen as the start of modern tourism. Thomas Cook (1808-1892) from Derbyshire, England started out organizing guided tours in England and Scotland. The Switzerland tours kickstarted Cook's business, although initially, he wasn't interested in profits. He simply wanted people to broaden their horizons.
A ticket to ride
While there had been some guided tours before 1863, Cook is credited with making travel not only more interesting by providing more guided elements, he also persuaded rail and other transport companies as well as hotels abroad to take Thomas Cook tickets and hotel coupons - one example is pictured here.
Guides and 'travelers' checks'
In these early days, Cook made most of his money from guidebooks - like the one seen here - and rail timetables. He also invented the circular note - a forerunner to the travelers' check.
Poor but beautiful
Today one of the most affluent countries in the world, Switzerland in the 1860s was poor with little infrastructure. Morrell remarked on the extreme poverty of the rural population in her diary. Cook's tours made the breathtaking scenery of the Swiss Alps more popular and accessible for travelers.
'Golden age of alpinism'
Cook's first tours to Switzerland took advantage of a golden age for mountaineering in his home country. British explorers completed many of the first ascents of several peaks in the Swiss Alps. Edward Whymper is credited with the first ascent of the Matterhorn - seen here - in 1865.
Dressing the part
The participants of the Swiss Grand Tour 2013 - including Jemima's descendants John Bowes Morrell and Margaret Anne Morrell pictured here on the far left - tried to get a feel for the atmosphere 150 years ago by dressing up in period costume.
Taking the waters
While this scene looks more like a picture from a modern holiday brochure, it shows the participants of the tour this year having breakfast in the Alps' famous thermal baths in Leukerbad, just like their Victorian-era counterparts, who used to sit in the pool for hours for medicinal reasons, with refreshments served all day.